Jane Eaton Hamilton

"I write not because I am courageous but because I am afraid. I discover my courage in the writing, and am no longer silenced by fear." -Kerry Beth Neville

Tag: queer

Love Will (Still) Burst Into a Thousand Shapes

“…The next section of the collection following the one focused on artists is “Our Terrible Good Luck,” an apt oxymoron that encompasses the devastation that populates these poems on topics not often associated that kind of horror: motherhood and children. Oh boy, was this part of the collection hard for me. They’re just shattering to read: domestic abuse, the death of children, gun violence, mass murderers, the dark sides of motherhood, the physicality and sometimes grotesqueness of child birth. For me, they were painful and difficult to read, despite their being beautifully written. When I say devastating, this is what I mean:

In the month before they find your son’s body

downstream, you wake imagining

his fist clutching the spent elastic

of his pyjama bottoms, the pair with sailboats riding them

He’s swimming past your room toward milk and Cheerios

his cowlick alive on his small head, swimming

toward cartoons and baseballs, toward his skateboard

paddling his feet like flippers. You’re surprised

by how light he is, how his lips shimmer like water

how his eyes glow green as algae

He amazes you again and again, how he breathes

through water. Every morning you almost drown

fighting the undertow, the wild summer runoff

coughing into air exhausted, but your son is happy

He’s learning the language of gills and fins

of minnows and fry. That’s what he says

when you try to pull him to safety; he says he’s a stuntman

riding the waterfall down its awful lengths

to the log jam at the bottom pool

He’s cool to the touch; his beauty has you by the throat

He’s translucent, you can see his heart under

his young boy’s ribs, beating

as it once beat under the stretched skin of your belly

blue as airlessness, primed for vertical dive

HOLY FUCK, Jane Eaton Hamilton. I don’t remember the last time I read a poem so fucking sad and heartbreaking.” -Casey Stepaniuk

In Conversation–with Room Magazine

I’m lucky to be judging the Room short forms contest this year; I was interviewed by Mica Lemisky here. I hope you consider entering because I’d certainly like the chance of reading your (exciting, invigorating, devastating, soulful, perplexing) work!

Huff Po Loves “Weekend”

 

Lesbian Communities: Looking Backward, Looking Forward

1. Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton. Do you remember what it feels like to read a novel that has lesbian lives, lesbian bodies, lesbian minds thoughtfully and carefully rendered by a writer of extraordinary talent? If you feel like it has been a long time since you read a novel like that, pick up Jane Eaton Hamilton’s Weekend (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016). Examining two lesbian couples, their romances, their conflicts, and their lives, Weekend reminds me how lesbian writers render lesbian characters with extraordinary grace, humanity, and insight.

 

 

Dorothy Allison on Lenny

The inimitable Dorothy Allison on Why Working-Class Literature Is the Strongest

8 Lesbian BDSM Novels to Curl Your Toes (and Maybe Melt Your Heart)

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Weekend made this fun list by Casey Stepaniuk over at Autostraddle! Catch what Casey has to say about them here.

The Collectors by Lesley Gowan

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At Her Feet by Rebekah Weatherspoon

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Owning Regina: Diary of My Unexpected Passion for Another Woman by Lorelei Elstrom

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Savor Her by Zee Giovanni

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The Night Off by Meghan O’Brien

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Scissor Link by Georgette Kaplan

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Tell Me What You Like by Kate Allen

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Older Queer Voices: an online anthology

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This anthology of older queer voices. Authors Sarah Einstein and Sandra Gail Lambert, thank you, and thank you to the contributors, too.
 

27 Books Every Person In Any Country Should Read

…but especially if you’re attending one of the hundreds of Women’s Marches around the world this weekend. Or should I say especially if you’re not?

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“These novels, essay collections, memoirs, histories, and more will help you understand why there is no feminism without intersectionality, why we should remember our history before we repeat it, and why Roe v. Wade is a lot more tenuous than you might think.” -Doree Shafrir

Buzzfeed Books

Book review: Agony and ecstasy apparent in new novel Weekend

Tom Sandburn’s review of WEEKEND in the Vancouver Sun. From June 2016.

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“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy tells his readers at the beginning of Anna Karenina.  Like most successful epigrams, this line is pungent, compelling and memorable. Also, like many such quips, it could work just as well turned inside out, as a declaration that all unhappy families have broad stroke elements in common.

While award-winning Vancouver poet, short story writer and novelist Jane Eaton Hamilton’s new book, Weekend is, by, the author’s own account, inspired by Raymond Carver’s grim 1981 meditation on love among the ruins “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” it can also be read as a reflection on Tolstoy’s formulation about happy and unhappy families. But however the erudite reader wants to compare it to earlier fiction, Weekend itself is a tour de force, an account of two same-sex couples in crisis, a tender meditation on the nature of love, desire, betrayal, mortality and reconciliation.

2016 Handout: Book cover of Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton. To go with review on Tracy Sherlock books pages. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Book cover of Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton

It also is notably successful in rendering the complex realities of sex, a challenge that defeats most writers who attempt it. Not many readers these days will be shocked or offended by the book’s sexual frankness, but some will wince at the way Hamilton breaks another taboo. Her enthusiastically sexual characters are in mid life (one is turning 50 as the weekend occurs) and come to their erotic experiences with all the baggage that status implies. In a culture that disdains the old, particularly older women, as sexless, these moments of powerful erotic realism are genuinely transgressive and wonderfully done.

While I describe the main characters as same sex-couples, the reality is somewhat more complex, as one of the characters is considering a gender transition. The fact that this character prefers the de-gendered singular pronouns “they” and “their” will take a bit of getting used to for some readers, but the calm, matter of fact way in which Hamilton portrays trans issues and the new verbal etiquette they imply is one of the book’s many strengths.

Unlike the gay novels of my youth, which tended to focus univocally on the coming out narrative, this book takes all that for granted and turns its attention to what happens after one has come out, won the right to marry and moved into what the public intellectual Stan Persky calls a “post gay” reality. Often enough, Hamilton suggests, this post liberation reality, while obviously a huge improvement on the fever swamps of homophobia and oppression that preceded it, is full of ordinary human heartbreak and betrayal, sorrow, tedium and flawed, triumphant love.

That recognition, and the lapidary prose Hamilton uses to embody and dramatize it make Weekend a remarkable, intricate and mature work of art. And Hamilton can reflect on these matters from the perspective of one of liberation’s veteran warriors. According to the University of Toronto’s Poetry Online, Hamilton “came out in 1982. She was a litigant in Canada’s same-sex marriage case from 2000-2003, and then maintained an website called queermarriage for the next several years to aid couples coming to B.C. from other countries with queer-friendly resources.”

Most of the novel’s action takes place over a weekend at two lake island homes in Ontario cottage country, giving the book a tight temporal and geographic focus, almost Aristotelian in its unity, a unity that is only partly diffused by the book’s coda, which takes the four lovers past the weekend, back to the city and on into new domestic and medical complications.

The couples are Elliot and Joe, two women who are celebrating the recent birth of their daughter Scout, and Ajax and Logan, who have come to the lake for Logan to propose marriage to Ajax. In the course of the weekend the couples are both disrupted, one by abandonment, one by a health crisis.

While in summary this may sound like the stuff of queer soap opera, in Hamilton’s deft, spare treatment, there is no melodrama. Sex is portrayed in a compelling, original fashion, and the trials and rigours of dealing with a new baby are portrayed with sensual detail and emotional depth. Hamilton’s rendering of her character’s heart crisis and of the years of impaired functioning, pain and body shame that preceded it benefits from the same sensual precision and closely observed detail that illuminate her sex scenes. All her characters are nuanced, complex and believable creations. This is the real world of imperfect adults, captured and rendered with compassion, wit and intelligence.

Much of this is accomplished by Hamilton’s exemplary use of free indirect discourse, that challenging but supple device that allows a third person account to reflect the first person inner life of the character. This approach, pioneered by Jane Austen, is a powerful one, allowing layers of double perspective and irony to be rendered in careful, minimalist fashion.

This is a remarkable book. Little wonder that Hamilton has been recognized so often for her narrative skills- by the Guardian’s Best Book of the Year List, the BC Book Prizes, the VanCity Award, CBC Literary Awards and many other prizes. If you have not yet discovered this important Canadian voice, Weekend is your opportunity.

Tom Sandborn lives and writes in Vancouver. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos65@telus.net.

 

 

WEEKEND

#Weekend #eatonhamilton
More reader reviews!
really liked it
Jesus Christ, what a gorgeous prose!
And all the queerness! My god. The boi dykes, the kinksters, the dis-identifiers, the non-normatives, the sweet dreamers, the loose-talkers, the sweet lovers, the broken hearted. Gotta love ’em all. –Penny, Goodreads
JEH acrylic on paper 2015
sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton
Modern romance! Exactly like something you may have read before, but also completely different. What Hamilton has done here is take the type of relationship story we have all read a million times and somehow re-invent it. Some of the elements seem a little forced (the island), but the story opens up into the world when the characters return to the city.
Funny, fierce, tender and revelatory.
–George Ilsley, Goodreads

WEEKEND on Amazon.ca

Format: Paperback

Jane Eaton Hamilton’s ‘Weekend’ is a searing, thought-provoking, funny, touching, steamy, and heart-wrenching look at one weekend in the life of two couples; a weekend that functions as an allegory for all in their lives that led them there, and all that will follow. Its depiction of love and sex in the queer context is uncommon, and uncommonly well written. Most writers struggle to show readers what life is like for their characters; Eaton Hamilton puts it all on display with what seems like ease and certainly with grace. The book offered me new ways of perceiving the world and new ways of wondering how my queer family and friends may experience life, and I am so grateful for that. The dialogue is constantly on fire (and the air, the summer air is so hot, and that heat just permeates the book so that I always wanted to read it by water); Eaton Hamilton seems always to find the right word and to know, intuitively, the cadence of a conversation. The strength of that dialogue was also my emotional undoing — I was so caught up that each secret or betrayal or kindness hit me with as much emotional force as it did the characters. Pick up a copy and get ready for a wonderful ride.


Seen reading…

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In Ontario colour coordinated with toenails…

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In Toronto…

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And wherever this is…

Penny on Goodreads says, “Jesus Christ, what a gorgeous prose!
And all the queerness! My god. The boi dykes, the kinksters, the dis-identifiers, the non-normatives, the sweet dreamers, the loose-talkers, the sweet lovers, the broken hearted. Gotta love ’em all.”

“Jade Colbert rounds-up the best from Canadian independent publishers.”

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Don’t know if this is exactly a *good* review or not, but it’s the Globe, so what the heck? Happy to be here with Myrna Kostash and Susan Perly.

Globe and Mail review

The WEEKEND Curve

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Julie R Enszer generously reviews WEEKEND for Curve Magazine:

‘Weekend’ By Jane Eaton Hamilton

“Stunningly beautiful.”

“This is a book I have been waiting to read. It is a book I enjoyed every single minute of reading. It is a book I want to share with everyone. I commend Weekend. This is a story of how we live our queer lesbian lives now. Do not miss it.”

Why Gay Pride? Why Rainbow Sidewalks?

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Here Are All The People Applauding The Orlando Gay Club Shooter

This what we get killed for

My heart chokes for all the victims, survivors and loved ones of the Orlando executions. We hold you in our queer hearts. Always. All ways.

Excerpt from my 1998 poetry chapbook, Going Santa Fe, which won the League of Canadian Poets Poetry Chapbook Award judged by bill bissett.

62)

 

Tell me something about lesbians

 

We are famous for potlucks

 

Tell me something real

 

I am trying to tell you

she and I are the same thing

 

I am trying

to tell you I am a woman

she is a woman

the same thing

as you, just

two people uniting

netting love from the

marine heavens

 

We comfort each other

when the sky churns like a cauldron

grey foam

 

Wouldn’t you wish this pleasure

on anyone?

 

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The truth is I grew the

tub of nodding sunflowers

And the bowl of chicken

on the harvest table? I cooked

And the quilt you lie on? I sewed it

And the book in your hands? I wrote it

And the baby’s cheek? I kissed it

 

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Weekend trailer

The folks at Big Creature Media do it again! Thanks, Big Creature with magic fingertips!

 

 

 

 

Do you have a vulva? Not on Kiddle, you don’t. That would be bad.

 Please send a letter of complaint, at the bottom of the page, and notify your network.

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Update: now the “bad” designation has been replaced by this angry robot saying:

“You have entered an LGBT related search query. Please realize that while Kiddle has nothing against the LGBT community, it’s hard to guarantee the safety of all the search results for such queries. We recommend that you talk to your parent or guardian about such topics.”

Weekend: I think it might actually be coming out!

COVER WEEKEND

49th Shelfing anticipated spring reads!

49th Shelf

Autostraddling the heck out of spring

COVER WEEKEND

15 Queer/ Feminist Books To Read In Early 2016

My novel “Weekend” would be one of them, joining Roxane Gay with “Hunger” and Tig Notaro with “I’m Just A Person,” and many more.

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